I am nursing my four-month-old daughter, and I am concerned about breastfeeding in public places such as shopping malls, parks, or restaurants. Does the law require me to cover up when I breastfeed in public?
It depends on where you live. A few states specifically give mothers the right to nurse in public, even if the mother's breast is partially exposed. These states are: Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, and Utah. One state, Missouri, provides that mothers may breastfeed in public “with as much discretion as possible.” If you live in any other state, there's no clear-cut rule that specifies whether you have to cover up when breastfeeding in public.
No matter where you live, the best thing to do is to use your judgment and cover up whenever you feel the situation demands it. Some cities, even some neighborhoods, are more conservative than others; if you want to avoid stares or disputes, adjust your nursing style to fit the place where you happen to be.
La Leche League International says that the easiest way to breastfeed discreetly is by wearing loose fitting clothing that you can lift up or unbutton to give your baby access to your breast without exposing yourself. There are also special nursing blouses that you can sew or buy that have hidden but strategically placed slits or panels. In addition, some women find it helpful to hold their babies in slings while breastfeeding.
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